I attended the opening of the dark and tragic MACBETH recently in the BMO Mainstage Theatre tent at Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park.  Since I hadn’t seen this production previously I had no idea what to expect until I sat through the first act.

Seductive prophecy and devastating ambition are the forces that drive this dark and powerful tragedy. MACBETH captures the timeless nature of the human experience and the terrible price to be paid when one seeks power at any cost. The great Scottish general Macbeth puts his faith in the words and prophesies of three witches but their promises lead the lord and his lady to commit terrible acts, in this classic tale of the supernatural filled with betrayal and murder.

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair” on a darkened road, when three witches (Lois Anderson, Dawn Petten, Susan Coodin) plant desire and ambition in the mind of Macbeth (Bob Frazer), which will ultimately lead him to commit regicide. When he returns home, Macbeth sees his perfect opportunity and invites King Duncan (Bernard Cuffling) to spend the night at his castle with his two sons, Malcolm (Anton Lipovetsky) and Donalbain (Kyle Rideout). Aided by his equally ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth (Colleen Wheeler), Macbeth murders Duncan and takes the crown. Struggling between overwhelming confidence and dark depression, Macbeth acts to destroy all who stand in the way of his becoming king. His friendship with Macduff (Ian Butcher) crumbles and he has Banquo (Craig Erickson) murdered by three assassins (Duncan Fraser, John Murphy, Kyle Rideout);  Banquo’s son Fleance (Joseph Gustafson) narrowly escapes the same fate. Aiding Macduff in his battle with Macbeth are the Scottish noblemen Lenox (Kayvon Kelly), Ross (Kevin Kruchkywich) and Menteith (Shawn Macdonald) who all stand in the way of Macbeth’s reign.

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival continues its 23rd season with the dark, powerful tragedy MACBETH, directed by Miles Potter.  The play runs Tuesdays to Sundays, to September 20, 2012 on the BMO Mainstage, in Bard’s 742-seat custom-built Mainstage Theatre tent in Vanier Park. Tickets $21 to $40. Box office: 604-739-0559 or www.bardonthebeach.org